Proudhon's most famous declaration that "property is theft" comes from this, his most famous work, published in French in 1840; the English translation dates from 1890. According to Proudhon, only that which is being used is real property. Land must be lived on or farmed to be property, and goods must have been made by one's own labor to be owned. These new definitions challenge the very basis of capitalist systems, and Proudhon used them as the foundation for his writings in support of anarchy. Activists, historians, and philosophers will find themselves pondering his arguments long after they have finished reading. PIERRE-JOSEPH PROUDHON (1809-1865) was a French political philosopher who wrote extensively on anarchy and was the first person known to have referred to himself as an anarchist. His most famous writings include The General Idea of the Revolution in the 19th Century (1852) and System of Economic Contradictions; or The Philosophy of Poverty (1846).
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon makes his case here of the necessity of revolution. His philosophy can be applied to any society, but in the atmosphere of great political upheaval in the mid 1800s, revolution seemed like destiny for France. Proudhon attacks past revolutionaries for failing to achieve a real transformation in society and offers a new path for future generations to follow: the dismantling of government. In its place, he envisions social contracts between all members of society in which they agree to exchanges that are entirely beneficial to both parties. No one need suffer. No one need be exploited by another. A true revolution, using Proudhon's principles, would bring about an anarchic utopia. Students of political science and philosophy, activists working for social justice, and those fed up with government corruption will find his argument thought provoking and educational. PIERRE-JOSEPH PROUDHON (1809-1865) was a French political philosopher who wrote extensively on anarchy and was the first person known to have referred to himself as an anarchist. He believed that the only property man could own was whatever he made himself and argued against the communist concept of mass ownership. His most famous writings include What Is Property? (1840) and System of Economic Contradictions; or The Philosophy of Poverty (1846).